Expanding access to cultural organizations

More school field trips to the theater and free admission days at museums and zoos could result from new cultural access legislation passed by the legislature.

Governor Inslee signs the bill to authorize cultural access programs that will bring arts, cultural and heritage experiences to more people.

Governor Inslee signs the bill to authorize cultural access programs that will bring arts, cultural and heritage experiences to more people.

ESHB 2263 gives local governments a new tool to expand access to arts and culture, one of the goals of the Regional Economic Strategy aimed at supporting a prosperous economy and enriching quality of life.

The legislation allows counties to seek voter approval of a sales tax increase to fund a cultural access program.

The funds would increase access to educational experiences through cultural organizations, and provide services and facilities for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and other vulnerable populations.

Cultural organizations eligible for support include those that advance science or technology, visual or performing arts, zoology, botany, anthropology, heritage or natural history.

The funds would be aimed at giving more people, regardless of income, a chance to take advantage of these cultural resources.

Cultural access has been a top priority of the Regional Economic Strategy and the effort towards getting legislation passed originated at PSRC a few years ago.


Transportation package sent to Governor

Final votes in the state House sent the state’s largest transportation investment package to Governor Jay Inslee.


Governor Inslee on the poison pill: “This creates a tough decision, and I’ll make it after I review all our options.”

“This is an incredibly important investment package that creates hundreds of thousands of construction jobs, greatly strengthens our economic prospects into the future, and makes historic investments in transit and other multi-modal improvements that provide reliable options for commuters across the state,” the Governor said.

But the Governor has yet to decide whether all of the investments in the package will go forward.

The so called “poison-pill” in the package would withhold spending of about $2 billion on ferries, transit and other investments should the Governor proceed with enforcement of a new clean fuel standard.

“I signed this transportation package even though it included the poison pill because it’s important that we move forward on critical investments that provide safety, jobs and traffic relief,” Inslee said. “This creates a tough decision, and I’ll make it after I review all our options.”

The final votes in the state legislature were the culmination of a years-long effort by a broad statewide coalition of business, government, labor and civic interests.

The Puget Sound Regional Council first recommended a new transportation package in the Fall of 2010.

PSRC staff has prepared a summary of the sources and uses of funding in the package and a list of specific projects funded within the region.

Transportation votes loom in Olympia and DC

While Washington State awaits final votes in the state legislature on a landmark transportation investment package by the weekend, the entire nation is depending on action by Congress to keep existing federal transportation programs alive past July 31.

Members of Congress need to find an estimated $11 billion to fully fund federal transportation programs through the end of the year.

Congressman Reichert

Washington Congressman Dave Reichert told Politico this week that leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee are: “hoping for an extension until the end of the year” to buy enough time for a “five- to six- to seven-year long-term bill.”

But many are hoping for a longer term fix that would require finding as much as $90 billion more over the next six years.

One key Senate committee has agreed to a long term policies, but tax and budget writers in the House and Senate have yet to propose funding to keep things alive through this year – or through 2021.

Congressman Dave Reichert of Auburn is Chairman of a key funding subcommittee charged with finding solutions.  He indicated this week that committee leaders are looking at a shorter term fix that can set the stage for a long term bill.

The federal Highway Trust Fund has faced chronic shortfalls for years and Congress has always found funding to keep programs going.

Within the central Puget Sound region, over 375 projects and programs are counting on $1.6 billion in federal funds over the next three years.

In Olympia, lawmakers have until July 27 to take final votes on the Connecting Washington transportation package during the current special session – but are now expected to complete their work by the weekend.

All three major components of the transportation package have cleared the state Senate.

The state House has passed the key revenue bill, and has been expected to act on the bonding and project pieces of the package on Friday.

An agreement on education policy announced by Senate leaders today is expected to end a logjam that had held up final votes in the House on transportation.  Final votes are expected in the state Senate tomorrow.

Governor Jay Inslee called the agreement great news that “allows the Legislature to move forward on wrapping up its work for this year.”


Transportation package appears a day, or two, away?

Governor Jay Inslee is urging state lawmakers to wrap up work on a transportation package and capital budget, “as soon as possible so that we can start putting out the construction cones and getting people to work.”

Chairwoman Clibborn

Representative Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island leads the House to pass a sweeping transportation package this morning. (TVW)

It will take at least another day.

The state House may convene again tomorrow morning after passing a major transportation funding bill before dawn this morning.  The vote was 54 to 44.

The state Senate has approved all three bills in the transportation package:  Funding, bonding and budget.

Should the House pass the remaining bonding and budget bills tomorrow, with no changes, what’s been called “the most important transportation investment in the region’s history” will just need the Governor’s final approval.

If there are changes, the state Senate would need to take final votes.  It plans to convene again on Friday.

But the schedule appears to depend on agreement by leadership about delaying implementation of Initiative 1351, which requires reductions in K-12 class sizes.

PSRC staff has prepared a summary of the sources and uses of funding in the compromise transportation agreement, along with the list of specific projects funded within the region.

Transportation package awaits final approval in House and Senate

The biggest transportation investment in the region’s history awaits action by the state legislature – in the final hours of what’s expected to be the final day of a brief special session.

Senator Curtis King

Senator Curtis King of Yakima leads action in the state Senate last night on “the most important transportation investment in our region’s history.” (TVW)

Last night the Senate approved funding for the package 39 to 9.

Just two Senators representing the region – Sen. Pam Roach of Auburn and Sen. Kirk Pearson of Monroe – voted no.

Early today the House began action on transportation reform measures.

The House awaits action on the three main elements of the compromise announced yesterday.

The Senate must still act on one more – the budget bill, which spells out how funds will be spent.

PSRC staff has prepared information on new funding sources and uses in the package, along with a list of $6.8 billion in specific projects in the region that would be funded.

Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign the state operating fund budget “later this evening” to avert a partial state government shutdown tomorrow.

The Governor has encouraged the state legislature to approve the compromise transportation package by today.


“Most important transportation investment in our region’s history.”

State leaders appear poised to enact a comprehensive transportation package.


The package includes $1.6 billion to replace the seismically deficient west end of the Highway 520 through Seattle.

The negotiated compromise released this afternoon includes an unprecedented $16 billion investment in the state transportation system – and provides voters with the chance to improve local roads, transit and ferry connections.

Redmond Mayor John Marchione, the President of the Puget Sound Regional Council, said:

“The transportation package state leaders put forward today is the most important transportation investment in our region’s history.

It will shore up fragile structures, complete our roadway network, and allow the region’s voters the chance to finally connect our major cities with light rail.

We could not be more grateful for their leadership.”

Agreement on a transportation package came as the state legislature entered its third special session this year.

Votes on the package are expected as early as tomorrow.

Governor Jay Inslee issued a statement saying: “I urge legislators to finish the job and pass this package by Tuesday so I can sign it as soon as possible.”

House out with transportation package

House transportation leaders answered the state Senate today with a $15 billion statewide transportation package, setting the stage for negotiations.

The House Transportation Committee has scheduled action on the package tomorrow at 6 p.m.

Some differences between the House proposal and the Senate-passed plan:

  • Full funding for Sound Transit’s request for authority for ST 3
  • Provides more funding for highway preservation, cities and counties and multimodal programs
  • No sales taxes for transportation from general fund programs
  • No links to project funding and a potential low carbon fuel standard
  • $1.2 billion in project savings from “practical design”

House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn released a transportation package today, setting up negotiations with the Senate and the Governor.

There’s a list of proposed tax and fee increases, and spending by program area,  a Connecting Washington project list, a list of bike and pedestrian projects and a list of transit projects that would be funded in the House plan.

House leaders have indicated they’ll wait for negotiations with the Senate on a final package prior to bringing a package to the House floor.